By Keith Buglewicz
The 2017 Subaru Impreza is as all-new as a car can be, but it's still all-Subaru, with standard all-wheel drive, sporty handling and a funky-sounding flat-4 engine. But everything is better. The new chassis is stiffer, the suspension more refined and the steering sharper; put it together and even mid-level models are fun to drive. It's quieter, too, whether cruising down the highway or at full-throttle acceleration. The roomy interior offers rear seats even adults can like, the next-generation of EyeSight improves on Subaru's camera-based driver assist and safety technology, and Subaru's Starlink infotainment system now includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Best of all: Prices hardly budge, making the Impreza an all-wheel-drive alternative to the Mazda3, Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra and many others.
If you want an all-wheel-drive car, but don’t want to break your compact-car budget, then the 2017 Subaru Impreza is the only way to go. Even if all-wheel drive isn't important, the sharp styling, available hatchback body and cutting-edge technology may convince you.
The Impreza is not a particularly quick car, owing in part to the additional weight of its standard all-wheel-drive system. Fuel economy, though good, falls short of the best in its class, like the Honda Civic.
Everything. The 2017 Subaru Impreza is so comprehensively redesigned that even the interior door handles are new.
Compared to its predecessor, the first thing you'll notice about the 2017 Subaru Impreza is the quiet, a credit to the new architecture's refinement. Beyond that, there's the quicker and...
... more responsive steering, which gives the new Impreza a livelier feel from behind the wheel. The suspension varies depending on what model you choose, but even the mid-level Impreza Premium provides surprising grip; step up to the Impreza Sport and the car's new chassis makes the most of the lower-profile tires. One downside is power: The 2.0-liter engine puts out 152 horsepower, but it has more than 3,000 pounds of Subaru to lug around, and it never feels sporty. The new continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) is smooth and quiet, and its paddle shifters imitate a 7-speed traditional automatic, but enthusiasts will gravitate to the 5-speed manual, or hold out hope for a more powerful engine in the future.
STANDARD ALL-WHEEL DRIVE
Maybe a little on the nose for a favorite Subaru feature, but you won't find this kind of all-weather peace of mind at a lower price. And this is a sophisticated system, with torque vectoring on higher-end models that makes the most of your traction, no matter the road conditions.
EYESIGHT DRIVER ASSIST
Subaru's EyeSight driver-assist technology uses stereo cameras to literally look down the road and observe things like other cars for active cruise control and collision avoidance, lane lines for active lane keeping, and more. It's also available on nearly all Impreza models.
The interior has been thoroughly redesigned yet will be familiar to Subaru fans. Subaru designed the logically laid-out gauges, infotainment and controls to look far more upscale than you'd expect for a car with a base price that's less than $20,000. Top-notch materials include soft-touch surfaces, and a classy stitched look on the dash and doors. The comfortable front seats are complemented by rear seats that finally offer decent legroom for adults. Cargo space in the Impreza sedan is a smallish 12.3 cubic feet; the hatchback's 20.8 cubic feet of cargo space expands to 55.3 with the rear seats folded.
The 2017 Subaru Impreza is longer, lower and wider than its predecessor, and the styling reflects its new proportions without exaggerating any of it. The grille and headlight treatments immediately mark this car as a Subaru, and some of the surfacing details still look like an Impreza. But the long roof and coupe-like shape of the sedan are much more modern and eliminate the stubbiness of the old car's lines. Hatchback models make up 60 percent of Impreza sales, and the new one is a looker. For the first time, sedans as well as hatchbacks have built-in attachments for roof racks.
Like all Subaru models, the 2017 Impreza comes standard with all-wheel drive, which isn't even available in most of its competitors. However, note that the base model is a price-leader because it's pretty basic. Standard features on the base model Impreza 2.0i include a new Starlink audio system that includes a 6.5-inch touch screen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a rearview camera and air conditioning. Base models also get air conditioning, cruise control and incline-start assist. The standard transmission is a 5-speed manual on base models; the CVT is optional but standard on the rest of the lineup.
Subaru says the 2.0i Premium will be the volume leader, and it adds a 7-speed manual shift mode for the CVT, better shocks, an updated audio system, and welcome lighting and illuminated power window switches. The Sport is a distinct model for the 2017 model year, offering more aggressive wheels, tires and suspension settings, red stitching on the dash and doors, and a better audio system with a bigger touch screen. The Limited adds more comfort features like a 6-way-power driver's seat, an instrument cluster with a color LCD display, steering-responsive headlights and more. Stand-alone option packages include EyeSight and a moonroof.
There's only one engine available for the 2017 Subaru Impreza: a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder putting out 152 horsepower and 145 lb-ft of torque. While similar to last year's engine, Subaru points out that it's 80-percent new, with the biggest improvement being a new advanced fuel-injection system. It's connected to either a 5-speed manual or a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), and being a Subaru, all-wheel drive is standard. While fuel economy is pretty good, and on paper it's competitive with other cars in its class, the engine strains to move the 3,000-pound Impreza with authority, and the CVT's occasionally slow reactions only exacerbate the problem. Hopefully Subaru will offer an upgrade engine; may we suggest the 175-horsepower flat-4 under the hood of the Legacy?
152 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
145 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/32 mpg (manual, sedan), 28/38 mpg (automatic, sedan), 24/31 mpg (manual, hatchback), 28/37 mpg (automatic, hatchback)
Note: Due to changes in EPA testing to more effectively reflect real-world conditions, some 2017 models show slightly lower fuel-economy scores than their 2016 versions.
The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) on the 2017 Subaru Impreza 2.0i changed very little: with a manual transmission, the $19,200 price (including $820 destination) makes it the least expensive all-wheel-drive vehicle you can buy. The best-selling Premium starts around $22,000, while the top-line Limited is just under $25,000. The new Sport model is about $23,000 if you want a manual, or $23,600 with an automatic. Hatchbacks cost about $500 more than sedans. Load up a Limited hatchback with all the trimmings and you're still looking at less than $30,000. That's a competitive price against the likes of the Honda Civic, Mazda3 and Ford Focus, none of which offer all-wheel drive. Check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area paid for their new Impreza, and note that although this model is all-new, the previous Impreza was a class winner when it comes to resale value.